Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

From the Editor

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

From the Editor

Article excerpt

The distinction between medical "treatment" and "enhancement" has attracted considerable attention in recent years. Notably in relation to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor Prozac, debate has focused on which projects of self-transformation are philosophically well founded and which rest on mistaken understandings of our human condition and the uses of medical interventions.

Carl Elliott has worried whether Prozac (and other therapies) attempt to treat the self rather than disease. In this issue of the Report he again explores concerns that the prevailing therapeutic world view that prescribes Prozac for those who are ill at ease in their lives too readily sees human predicaments as problems to be fixed and offers mechanistic "cures" for what are fundamentally spiritual dilemmas of alienation. Focusing on internal psychic well-being, he argues, neglects questions of the broader structures of meaning in which we live, and in which our alienation may be well placed.

James Edwards asks whether we distrust the happiness that Prozac seems to produce for those who use it, or the fact that that happiness is not earned by suffering. He draws on the work of Heidegger to argue that the debate we need to have may be less about which uses of Prozac to condone than about the possibility that we should live differently than we do. Must we live a life that seeks to order the world and ourselves in it--or might we live a life that acknowledges and seeks to bear truthful witness to the pathos of the world?

And David Healy reminds us that Prozac is very much a product of its time and place: the combination of the amendments to the Food and Drug Act (1962), which linked drug availability to diagnosis of disease, and the development of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors was critical to the emergence of depression as a recognized condition treatable by Prozac and other SSRIs. …

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